During my time abroad, we went on multiple different excursions. We went to a winery, a safari (my favorite), multiple museums throughout the city, and even tours of townships which were also highlight of the experience. Robben Island is a place where political prisoners were held; famous people such as Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela were prisoners here. Robben Island was the excursion we went on the weekend before Mandela Day, which was July 18. July 18this Nelson Mandela’s birthday. This year, Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 years old. It was very shocking to find that this isn’t a national holiday in South Africa. He is similar to our Dr.King, and each year in January Dr.King is celebrated. Schools are closed, it is a nationally recognized holiday.
This tour was very inspirational and enlightening, as it truly spoke to Mr. Mandela’s character seeming as if he could be so powerful while being incarcerated for the majority of his life. It takes such strength, courage, and perseverance to do all of the things he did in the circumstances that he was in. The political prisoners were isolated from the general population prisoners and were not allowed to have any guests or visitors. Their families could not send them money, commissary items, or simply just write them letters. Their living conditions were dehumanizing, as if they were animals they had to use the bathroom outside and they also did not have cots to sleep on. Being here made me realize how similar the United States and South Africa are in terms of a people’s struggle for freedom. South Africa just started a little later than we did. How crazy it is to think that two countries can be mirroring each other all the way across the world, and some of the citizens would never know.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela